Opposition parties slam budget, Modi terms it historic

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Patna: Activists affiliated to various NDA parties welcome Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget in Patna, on Feb 1, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, Feb 2: Opposition parties on Wednesday slammed the Union Budget as a “damp squib”, “pro-corporate” and “hopeless” while the ruling party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hailed it as “historic” and reflective of the government’s aim to boost investment and employment.

The Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal-United and Communist Party of India-Marxist were among the parties which criticised the budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha.

In his reaction to the budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that maximum emphasis has been given to farmers, villages, poor, dalit and the underprivileged sections of the society.

“This budget is associated with our aspirations, our dreams and in a way depicts our future. This is the future of our new generation, the future of our farmers. When I say future, it has a meaning in each of its letters,” Modi said.

Expanding on the word “Future”, he said `F’ stands for the farmer, `U’ for Underprivileged, `T’ for Transparency and Technology Upgradation, `U’ for Urban Rejuvenation, `R’ for Rural Development and `E’ for Employment, Entrepreneurship and Enhancement.

He said the budget will give new strength to the economy and reflects commitment to eliminate corruption and black money.

Modi said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his team deserve praise for the “historic budget.”

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament that the budget did not address key issues like job creation and agrarian distress.

“We were expecting fireworks, instead got a damp squib. The budget lacked vision,” Gandhi said.

“The shock that this government gave through demonetisation, the expectation was the government will do something for the poor, farmers the unemployed. But there is no clear vision. He (Jaitley) did a lot of sher-o-shayari, gave a good speech but there is no basis,” Gandhi added.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said the budget lacked any direction.

“The budget is clueless, useless, baseless, missionless, actionless and heartless. No roadmap for the country or the future from a government that has lost all its credibility,” she said in a tweet.

“The budget is misleading, full of jugglery of numbers and hollow words which mean nothing,” she added.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna that the budget has disappointed the people.

“There is nothing in it that could speed up growth and development in the country. It is not going to help the common people, farmers and the youth,” he said.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad said the budget was anti-poor, anti-farmer and anti-youth.

“Why has the central government failed to inform how much employment it provided to youth last year,” he asked.

CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the budget will burden the common man.
“We are calling it a contractionary budget, as opposed to an expansionary budget as it is not expanding domestic demand. There is decline in revenue expenditure, no employment generation and it is seeking to hike indirect taxes, which will burden the common man,” he said.

Communist Party of India said that Jaitley failed to present any proposal to recover Non-Performing Assets (NPAs).

“The Union Budget including the Railway Budget contains nothing concrete for the common people and its (the government’s) real patrons, the corporate houses will be given all facilities and concessions,” the party said in a statement.

Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal said the budget will not help in curbing corruption.

“It’s a hopeless budget. It has nothing for farmers. It does not talk about jobs for the unemployed,” Agarwal told IANS.

Another party leader Dimple Yadav, who is wife of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, termed the budget as “directionless” and said that it neglected the farmers and women.

Lauding the budget, BJP president Amit Shah said Modi has fulfilled his promise of bringing in transparency in politics by reducing cash donation to political parties to Rs 2,000.

“Cash donation to political parties has been reduced to Rs 2,000 from Rs 20,000. This is the beginning of a new era,” he said.

He said the budget was women-friendly and poor-friendly and had several measures for benefit of the farmers.

Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Suresh Prabhu were among those who hailed the union budget.